Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
6/22/2009
01:11 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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The Apple iPhone 3G S And The CIO

Not too long ago, a mythical CIO finally authorized the Blackberry for corporate use, and overnight was transformed from know-nothing whipping-boy to rock-star hero. But now comes the iPhone 3G S and the troops are threatening an all-out uprising unless they all get one. A real-life IT exec from the U.K. tells this tale of woe in "The CIO and the iPhone."

Not too long ago, a mythical CIO finally authorized the Blackberry for corporate use, and overnight was transformed from know-nothing whipping-boy to rock-star hero. But now comes the iPhone 3G S and the troops are threatening an all-out uprising unless they all get one. A real-life IT exec from the U.K. tells this tale of woe in "The CIO and the iPhone."A regular columnist for the U.K.'s Computing, Alastair Behenna is CIO of Harvey Nash Plc, an executive recruiter. And his latest column captures the almost-surreal situations that arise when corporate employees accustomed to great experiences with technology in their personal lives are confronted with systems and policies that they find to be counterproductive, outdated, and just plain wrong.

Behenna tells the story through a mythical CIO named Bob whose heart, if not his instincts, is in the right place:

"Earlier in his career Bob had posited the theory that by dint of sweat, labour and meticulous research he would uncover a marvellous and mysterious device that would draw together the fragmented and disparate strands of his technology-dependent enterprise. He dreamed of a day when the mighty corporate sales and marketing machine would discover the true potential of IT to bring home their bacon and boost their bottom line."

After a couple of new approaches lead to a series of disastrous results - including "A rogue systems analyst had installed keystroke loggers on all the terminals and was blackmailing three board members and the tea lady " - Bob the mythical CIO finally introduces the Blackberry across the company and suddenly everything is wonderful: "With amazing rapidity the gaps in the business narrowed as the uptake of the new technology rocketed. The enterprise became connected and available 24/7. Demands for connectivity and updated information soared and Bob was a happy fellow."

But, as every CIO knows about life here in the 21st century, gadget-happiness is fleeting. The Blackberry nirvana was short-lived because along came the Apple iPhone 3G S, and out went Bob the CIO's soaring approval ratings.

"… the gaps between the CIO and the must-haves, the I-wants and the give-it-to-me-or-I'll-tell-the-chief-executives widened into a veritable chasm. The helpdesk was inundated with petulant request forms, death threats began appearing on the intranet and he tired of telling the company how the iPhone didn't cut and paste, didn't support the email environment and wasn't security aware enough."

Sound a little too familiar? Behenna is a spirited storyteller and certainly brings a uniquely quirky perspective to the CIO role and its interactions with the corporate world, but I think you'll recognize a lot of your own intramural battles within his column. And his ending captures the rollercoaster world of the IT business perfectly, and should give you pause to ask whether you yourself help make such endings come true.

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